Home > Power Tools, Woodworking > Dust collection with a Thien Cyclone Separator and a short shop tour

Dust collection with a Thien Cyclone Separator and a short shop tour

June 26th, 2012

For the last 3 years since I’ve gotten into woodworking I’ve made do with an old 1HP Grizzly dust collector. It worked well enough when connected to one tool at a time. Up until recently that hasn’t been a problem. I left it connected to the table saw and used my shop vac on the router table. The only other power tool I had was a thickness planer with very poor dust collection anyway.

But in the last 6 months I’ve added a couple tools to the shop, namely a power jointer and a bandsaw. My first attempt at dust collection was 4″ PVC from my 1HP DC to the table saw and jointer, with blast gates. It wasn’t very successful for lots of reasons. (underpowered DC  for the long runs, not good enough seals on the joints, etc…)

So for the last month or so I’ve been reworking the entire shop. I got a new single stage DC (the Grizzly 3HP double canister ), reworked the entire shop with 6″ metal ducting, and built a Thien Cyclone Separator.

Actually I built two of them, one for my new system that is based on 6″/7″ ducting ports and a second one based on 4″ ports that I’m handing off to my father-in-law for his woodturning shop.

Building them was pretty simple, if a bit time consuming, and it generated a TON of MDF dust. Eventually I started working outside just so I quit filling the shop with fine dust.

Honestly the priming, painting and glueing took the longest. It turned a quick 4-6 hour project into a week long adventure, but I’m happy with the results.

I shot a quick video of my top hat in action for anyone thats interested. Sorry for the poor video quality, I didn’t feel like busting out the DV camera and messing around with Firewire, etc… so I just shot it with my iPhone.

  1. Charlie
    June 26th, 2012 at 16:28 | #1

    I have a Delta Contractor’s table saw also, and I spent a considerable amount of time designing dust collection for it like no one else has that is very efficient and user friendly.

    • Nik Brown
      June 26th, 2012 at 17:20 | #2

      Yea I added a back to the saw and it has helped a lot!!!!

      Can’t rip 45’s with it without taking the back off, but I hardly ever do that anyway. I’d love to see what you did to yours. Got a link?

  2. June 26th, 2012 at 17:30 | #3

    Have you thought about just adding some simple ribs to your trashcan? Even just a couple of vertical ribs screwed throught eh sides might stiffen up the plastic, or even a ring or two on the outside…

    There may be no need to spend another $50 on a beefier trashcan if you can just reinforce it a bit with some scraps.

    • Nik Brown
      June 27th, 2012 at 11:45 | #4

      Yea considering cutting a ring or two out of some ply. I have two matching trash cans so I can quickly swap when one gets full. So I guess I’ll need to reenforce both.

  3. Tom
    June 27th, 2012 at 13:59 | #5

    What size/type of plexiglass did you use? how did you keep it from cracking?

    Thank you!

  4. Nik Brown
    June 27th, 2012 at 16:23 | #6

    .093in Polycarbonate LEXAN. Just routed groves in the mdf and bent it around. The stiff is flexible enough it had no problem.

  5. Charlie
    June 28th, 2012 at 01:50 | #7

    @Nik Brown
    Blocking the back of your saw off like that is probably the worse thing you could do for several reasons. Your chokeing the dust collector, and if you tilt the blade and forget to remove that panel you will bind up the trunions and throw it out of alignment. Or worse case senario break a trunion putting the saw out of commission for a few days until you can get a part, if you can find one nowdays, plus the cost of the part and shipping. As far as your Separator, not only would I use a stronger container, but probably larger diameter also.

  6. Charlie
    June 28th, 2012 at 01:53 | #8

    I’m also guessing that the dust hood under your saw is not very efficient.

  7. Charlie
    June 28th, 2012 at 01:59 | #9

    Yeah, I got a link. https://sites.google.com/site/sawsuckerproject/home Just don’t be a snake in the grass like this jerk in YouTube trying to take credit for my hard work. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkzY0F-5YlI

    • Nik Brown
      June 29th, 2012 at 14:52 | #10

      I virtually never tilt my table saw blade so breaking it isn’t an issue.

      That’s an interesting idea only partially enclosing the back. With my former underpowered DC enclosing the back completely helped a lot. Now that I have a decent one though I may look at that idea of only enclosing the bottom part. Thanks for the idea!

  8. Charlie
    June 30th, 2012 at 03:46 | #11

    The other reasons that I don’t want the back totally enclosed is at the end of the day I remove the motor so I can scoot the backside of the saw up against the wall in our 2 stall garage / shop that we still park our vehicles in, haveing access to the arbor pulley and belt is nice when installing the motor the next time that I decide to setupo shop. Plus if I ever, or when I should say, drop the arbor nut into the cabinet when changeing blades I can retrieve the nut without a hassle. Trust me, this whole setup isn’t something that I just came up with and threw together in an afternoon. I put ALOT of thought and time into it.

  9. Dean
    July 2nd, 2012 at 18:12 | #12

    Just thinking about a possible solution for your partially collapsing trash can. I’m not sure what the diameter of the top of your trash can is, but you could use a tomato cage and cut it to length. The link below is for a top ring that’s 16” in diameter. Or, if you can obtain a short section of some wire mesh fencing, you could cut it to size, and wire it together. This is the type of fencing that has the large rectangular openings. Of course for either idea you would need to remove all sharp edges and points. When you need to empty the trash can it shouldn’t take much effort to wiggle these free from the sawdust. You could also fabricate something with some heavy gauge wire.

    54” tomato cage, less than $5.


  10. Charlie
    July 3rd, 2012 at 03:50 | #13

    I think that he has two problems, the container is too flimsy, and it’s too small to be running that much air through it.

  11. Tom
    October 31st, 2012 at 18:34 | #14

    I built a Thein separator for my shop vac. It sits on a 20 gallon metal trash can, and is about 99% efficient. Only the smallest of small dust gets past it. The problem with a collapsing container is caused by using too small hose and fittings or a reduction in airflow. Read why here: http://www.cyclonecentral.co.uk/pressureprotection.php. I put a plastic bag in my trash can and it doesn’t get sucked up, makes it easy to empty too. Do like the say and add a relief valve, cause you never know when something may plug a hose.

  12. David M
    April 29th, 2014 at 19:31 | #15

    I know this thread is old, but I am having a tough time finding the design criteria for the top hat, since you have a 3hp grizzley, I figured you had to make some custom calculations on diameter, depth particle opening width etc… I have a 5hp grizzley and want to build one for my machine. Where did you get dimensions and how did you modify them to fit your CFM and port size? My port is approximately 9″ dia.

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